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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 

Nothing is wrong with resurrection if done for the right reasons

I found an article in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer from the beginning of the year bearing a negative take on resurrections, even though the writer has a negative stand on Blackest Night too. For example:
This was the year that the DC dead walked the Earth, perhaps the ultimate example of the annoying tendency of comics characters to not stay dead.

The main writer for DC's "Blackest Night" yearlong story line was Geoff Johns, a stellar scribe who pulled off the tale of an evil force reanimating the corpses of hundreds of long-dead superheroes and villains, and their friends and families.

The story was so big, encompassing almost every DC title for most of the year, that it was crushed by its own weight. After the first 50 attacks on a hero by a deceased friend or lover, the fights became formulaic, then redundant.
Unfortunately, while Blackest Night certainly was very bad, the writer still undermines his argument by acting as though resurrections are completely bad. And besides, he's not completely right about the following:
Superheroes were dying by the dozen, only to return as zombies and eventually be restored to normal.
Wrong. Elongated Man, Sue Dibny and Jean Loring didn't. Nor did Katma Tui, Adam Grant, Lian Harper, Sarah Gordon, Yolanda Montez and Beth Chapel, the latter 2 who were former Infinity Inc. alumni whose own deaths were for shock value only during Eclipso: The Darkness Within back in 1993. Nor in fact did any of the old Justice Society members like Al Pratt and Charles McNider who were pointlessly slaughtered during Zero Hour. It wasn't about righting all wrongs, it was only about resurrecting selectively, without even doing much to provide those they did resurrect with really respectable writing afterwards (Jason Todd's resurrection was certainly weak in this regard). In that case, how do they expect anyone to really appreciate the resurrections they have done?

Also, as far as I know, Marvel hasn't brought back the Wasp, Jean Grey, or even exonerated Scarlet Witch either.
There's an unsaid rule in comics: If one character dies, it could be real. But if five or more die, then it's a plot device, and all will be restored.
And what is that supposed to mean? That all who fall should remain in the grave? I must say, that's pretty pretentious alright.
So, when a "real" death occurred -- the former Aqualad was killed -- it had no impact. The character's death was minimized by the circumstances surrounding it. The only reason we know he's not coming back is because he already has been replaced with a new Aqualad. Plus, no one even seems to remember the original Aqualad, later known as Tempest.
Recalling that the replacement for Garth may be of black descent, that's the problem with this particular replacement: it was only done as a politically correct plot device to replace a white protagonist with one of a different race, which is getting ridiculous already, since it's either not done on tasteful terms, or it's just plot device with no substance, or both.

But if Garth really is being forgotten, as is Lilith Clay, that certainly is galling.
The "deaths" and return to life of Batman and Captain America last year were handled better than usual, though many readers, myself included, are still a little fuzzy on the details.
Oh no they weren't. Those too were more than a bit much, done for publicity's sake, and they didn't seem to make as big a deal of their return as they did their "demise". I guess that's why fuzzy does sum it all up well enough, because that's all it was, not to mention blurry.
At Marvel, everyone on Earth is dead, and deceased members of the Avengers are trying to save the day. Marvel may get the Monty Python "I'm Not Dead Yet" award for its handling of Bullseye in "Daredevil" during the way-too-long and way-too-predictable "Underworld" story line. In the space of a few months, Daredevil kills Bullseye, resurrects him then kills him again.
Well they've got that right: it's idiotic that Hornhead should even resurrect Bullseye at all, if Bullseye is a scummy assassin who deserves to face God's Law. More importantly though, the story in Underworld only takes away all the impact of Daredevil and many other series and characters if they're going to enmesh him in a plot as outrageous as that.
I know I've groused about this before, but comics companies are not living up to their end of the contract. Readers trade their sense of disbelief (and logic) for wonder. We'll grant writers license to mess around with reality, but we want them to follow the rules.

When death becomes a mere inconvenience, there is nothing to fear. It's no longer a big deal for people to risk their lives for justice if there is no real consequence.[...]

Word is that DC already has decided that dead is dead, now that the whole "Blackest Night" saga is in the rearview mirror. This is a smart move, and one I hope Marvel seriously considers.

Or not. Marvel just announced that the alternate version of Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe is being killed. Again.
While this is so, it's also just as bad when characters are killed for nothing more than publicity stunts, the main problem with crossovers of the past decade, and indeed, nearly all of what they did these past years was for stunt's sake. And when they just kill for stunts, especially so many within a short amount of time, it becomes offensive and has zero impact for that particular reason. Because nobody asked for them to kill off characters every which way but loose.

We want them to follow rules? Maybe, but that doesn't mean we're literally asking for any characters to be wiped out in the first place when there could be storytelling potential for them. And even if there isn't, that's still no excuse for killing them off. There could be a writer with ideas of what to do, and if they have something, they should be given the chance. This is what the article obscures, as the writer seems more concerned with death at all costs instead of whether the stories were well written to begin with, or whether any death is a cheap path to take.

If this is the direction the MSM is promoting, that's very bad, and they don't realize that's just what leads to bad storytelling. And if DC is sticking with the dead-is-dead position, that's bad too.

There are some deaths that were done well enough, but those were mainly in stand-alone stories. Why don't we think instead about reversing the deaths that were done in extremely poor taste and stop worrying about death having no impact when there wasn't any impact to begin with? Not only that, if there really must be deaths, couldn't there be some that are by natural causes or even an auto accident, instead of deaths via murder and other violence? That's something many mainstream comics noticably don't seem to try, and when they do, as in the case of Aunt May Parker, they really ruined everything with the silly retcon of her own death in 1998.

And, let's also consider that there are other forms of fiction where characters do return from the dead, like in movies and television, and even in manga. Stargate, which became easily the most successful sci-fi franchise on TV after Star Trek, featured revival of James Spader's character in the movie itself, and while I haven't seen every episode of the series and its spinoffs, what if it turns out that there too, there's devices to reanimate the dead? Those who think it's a crime to write fiction about resurrections in general should consider those examples.

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Word is DC has decided dead is dead...

Yeah, I've heard that one before.

At least, DC has some cover, as per its fantasy elements in the old Earth-whatever number days. (That's how they brought back Steve Trevor the second time.) Marvel originally tried to emphasize reality, and "dead is dead." Of course, that has since been a bad joke.

I don't care why the character I like is back anymore. If you have to BS, fine, fine. My expectations are low, and frankly, I don't want some of them back, as the canon writers will just make their reborn lives even worse.

And the Bullseye resurrection is lame, given all the hoopla Kevin Smith gave him by killing Karen Paige, 12 some years ago. Lame, again.

And Garth and Lilith Clay begin forgotten? Speaking as a Titans fan, yeah, that's horrible.

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